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What is Tablet?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 16, 2024
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Scottish tablet is a precursor to chocolate fudge. It is a rich, very sweet candy frequently cut into small squares. Some liken the consistency to fudge, but suggest tablet is a bit grainier in texture. Others liken the taste of tablet to buttery toffee, but concede it is a bit softer and less chewy than toffee.

One can purchase tablet primarily in Scotland, though some British companies also make it. It is very hard to obtain in the US. However, Internet stores make it quite easy to order tablet online.

Many Americans of Scottish descent prefer to make their own tablet. But ingredients may be a bit challenging to find. A number of tablet recipes call for golden syrup, which is again more likely to be found in the UK. One can generally substitute corn syrup, however, if golden syrup is unavailable. Alternately, many recipes exist which do not use golden syrup.

The basic ingredients of tablet are sugar, butter, condensed milk and a small amount of fresh milk. Some recipes additionally call for a bit of vanilla flavoring, but this is not considered a traditional flavor of tablet.

Sugar quantity is quite high. Essentially, there is usually ten parts sugar to one part butter. The sugar in the condensed milk further adds to the sweetness. The ingredients are heated and boiled to the soft ball stage on a candy thermometer, 235 F (112.78 C). If one doesn’t have a candy thermometer, a small amount of the tablet mixture on a spoon can be immersed in cold water. If the candy forms a soft ball, it is essentially ready.

At soft ball stage, the tablet mixture is removed from the heat and beaten heavily for several minutes until one can feel the mixture thicken. The tablet is then poured into a nonstick pan, or onto a marble board to be cooled.

Some recipes suggest cooling the tablet overnight in the refrigerator. This will result in a more grainy texture, but many insist the graininess is part of its overall charm. Cooks recommend cutting the tablet into small squares or rectangles, since it is very sweet.

Often, tablet may be served alongside chocolate fudge, or may be given as a gift during the holiday. Those familiar with candy making usually can easily make tablet. Since the ingredients are relatively few, the most care needs to be taken during the cooking process, as overcooking the mix will produce too hard a candy.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a DelightedCooking contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon300355 — On Oct 29, 2012

@burcidi: I used to make Vanilla tablet regularly from an old '60s recipe book of my mother's, and it didn't have condensed milk in it at all. Just milk, sugar and vanilla essence.

@anon253793: I'm a 41-year-old Scot who has lived here all my life, and I've never heard a single person pronounce tablet as "taiblet"!

By anon253793 — On Mar 10, 2012

I grew up eating Tablet and it truly is super sweet and a very wee piece goes a very long way. Can't imagine finishing three containers in a week. That's a recipe for sugar shock or diabetes. Think pecan pie, which is so sweet one can usually manage just a very small slice. So too with Tablet or 'taiblet' as a true Scot would pronounce it. It is most often not made at home but purchased at specialty sweet shops which would add nuts and different flavorings for variety, although the most basic is (to my mind) the most popular still.

By lovealot — On Oct 03, 2011

Tablet seems to be fairly easy to make and wouldn't take much time. I don't think I've seen many recipes with so few ingredients as tablet.

The thing with cooking it to the soft ball stage, is to stay right there by the pan and watch the candy thermometer or test it often in a spoon covered with cold water. Also make sure your candy thermometer is accurate.

Good luck to everyone trying it for the first time! I'm going to try it too.

By BoniJ — On Oct 03, 2011

I'm surprised that my family has never made tablet or even mentioned it. Part of my heritage is Scottish and my grandmother and my father made quite a few Scottish dishes. Maybe my grandmother had trouble making it come out right and just scraped the recipe.

Anyway it sounds just delicious and I think I will give it a try. With all the sugar in it though, it's a good idea to serve just little pieces.

By Saraq90 — On Oct 02, 2011

Tablet seems like an amazing treat to have not only on holidays, but all year around, especially for special occasions like birthdays!

I don't know about you, but I kind of get tired of having cake on my birthday. I think I am going to try this on my birthday and if I can make it right I may just have that along with or in substitute of cake.

Tablet seems like a great dessert to serve at parties. Since it is so rich it seems like everyone will get to have a little square, and they may not want seconds, that way everyone will be able to have a chance to try it!

I grew up across the street from a really proud Scottish-American family, so I am kind of surprised they didn't mention it! Maybe they didn't want to have to share their tablet with the whole neighborhood!

By runner101 — On Oct 01, 2011

My sister and I started a tradition to bake most of our family and friends goodies for Christmas a few years ago. We always try to find new recipes and find something that everyone will enjoy. We always try to include a couple of the well-liked goodies each Christmas.

We have found in our family you can not go wrong with chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, and rice crispy treats. I think I might add tablet to the Christmas goody list this year, it seems like it will be a hit!

We have learned over the years that the recipes that seem the simplest, are usually actually the most difficult. I can see why so many people have trouble making tablet, with that few of ingredients it seems like you have to get all the cooking done perfectly, or you will have to start all over!

Like take peanut brittle for example, we thought a few years ago this would be easy, but we were wrong! It took us a few different times to get peanut brittle tasting and feeling edible! Practice makes perfect, usually at least!

By SarahSon — On Oct 01, 2011

Even though my favorite Christmas candy is fudge, I have never even heard of tablet before. Where have I been - this sounds absolutely wonderful!

I have made several batches of Christmas candies over the years and sometimes they come out perfect, and other times I have to throw the whole batch away.

I think one of the most important things is to have an accurate candy thermometer. Making candy usually only requires a few ingredients, but quite a bit of time.

Sometimes I feel like I am standing there stirring for a long time before it reaches the correct temperature.

This article has made me anxious to add tablet to my list of Christmas goodies.

By indemnifyme — On Sep 30, 2011

Making tablet does sound quite easy. My boyfriend and I actually got it into our heads last Christmas to make some different candies for our family, since we were pretty low on cash.

We chose tablet as one of our recipes, and we were going to substitute corn syrup for the golden syrup called for in the recipe. Well, wouldn't you know it, we purchased corn oil instead of corn syrup! Just so everyone knows, those two things are not the same!

We realized when we were making the tablet that we were following the recipe completely, and all the stuff that was supposed to be happening wasn't! Finally I checked the ingredients against what we had and I noticed our problem. At that point, it was late at night on Christmas Eve, so we just gave up. We stopped in the morning and picked up some popcorn tins for everyone!

By burcidi — On Sep 30, 2011

I can't get condensed milk where I'm at. Is there an alternative I can use for the tablet recipe?

I doubt that there is, but I love this dessert candy and it's been a long time since I had any. I'm currently working abroad and can't find any condensed milk at all. I guess I could order it ready-made from an online store, but I'm not sure if those will be any good.

Do you have any suggestions?

By serenesurface — On Sep 30, 2011

@feruze-- I know what you mean. I had to throw away a quite many trays of tablet because it didn't come out right.

But don't lose hope! Keep trying because experience gives the best results. Also watch out for a couple of common mistakes. First of all, when you put all of the ingredients in the pan and start stirring, make sure the heat is not very high. It needs to slowly simmer for the ingredients to come together, don't rush it, take your time.

The second mistake I used to make is to pull it off the stove too soon. Tablet really does need to boil for some time. Depending on the cookware you're using, it could take longer or shorter. The best way to know is to check the color. It needs to turn a golden, honey-like, caramel-like color. So keep stirring and boiling until it does.

The third important part is beating it. I think this might have been where you made a mistake. I know your arms will get tired, but you really need to stir the tablet for a good 15-20 minutes for it to set well.

So try again, I'm sure you'll get it right this time.

By bear78 — On Sep 29, 2011

My roommate brought some homemade tablet from Britain last month that his mom made. They were so good! There was like three full containers of it and we finished them all in about a week!

I asked him about how it's made and he listed off the ingredients and how it's cooked. It sounded so easy that I decided to make some myself. It didn't turn out the way I expected though. I'm not sure what I did wrong since I followed the recipe exactly but my tablet didn't set at all.

First, I though it was just taking a while to set, so I put it in the fridge overnight. The next morning it was the same, it hadn't set. I had to throw the whole thing away, it was very disappointing. Clearly, making tablet is not as easy as it seems.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a DelightedCooking contributor, Tricia...
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